Imam al-Boukhari interprets ‘wajh’ (literally ‘face’) by mulk (‘dominion’)

Page title of Volume 3 from Sahih al-Bukhari Wajh Tawil Bukhari

Imam al-Bukhari, in the chapter of Exegesis (Kitab at-Tafsir) of his Sahih, in volume 3 p.171 of the edition used, says:

Surat al-Qasas : kullu shay’in haalikun illa wajhah :’Everything will be destroyed, except His  wajh [i.e.]: except His ‘Dominion’ ( illa mulkah).’

[Explanation: This phrase means ‘Everything will be destroyed except his ‘wajh‘. The term wajh has several meanings: the one that comes immediately to the mind is ‘face’, however this is not a meaning suitable for Allah as this would contradict the explicit verses from the Qur’an such as the one meaning that He does not resemble anything. Therefore, that is why al-Bukhari here explains the term wajh with one of its other meanings which is ‘Dominion’, i.e. everything will be destroyed, but the fact that Allah owns and controls everything will not be destroyed.].

The commentary of Imam as-Sindi can be seen on the margin confirms that this interpretation is correct.

Points to remember:

  • Imam al-Bukhari is part of the Salaf, i.e. part of the scholars of the best era, the first three centuries after the Hijrah. He died in 265 Hijri, i.e. more than 1100 years ago!
  • Here he explains clearly how to understand this verse from the Qur’an. He makes a specific interpretation of the term ‘wajh‘.
  • The scholar as-Sindi, who died in 1138 after the Hijrah, i.e. approximately 300 years ago, confirms that this is an acceptable interpretation. This shows that throughout the centuries, this statement of Imam al-Bukhari has been understood as an interpretation.

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